The lictor (possibly from Latin: ligare, "to bind") was a Roman civil servant who was a bodyguard to magistrates who held imperium. Lictors were used since the Roman Kingdom, and according to Roman historian Livy, the custom may have originated earlier, in the Etruscan civilization.

Consul et lictores
Gold coin from Dacia, minted by Coson, depicting a consul and two lictors


Fasces lictoriae
A fasces was the symbol of a Lictor

The Lictors were instituted by Rome's first king, Romulus, who appointed 12 lictors to attend him. Livy refers to two competing traditions for the reason that Romulus chose that number of lictors. The first version is that 12 was the number of birds that appeared in the augury, which had portended the kingdom to Romulus. The second version, favoured by Livy, is that the number of lictors was borrowed from the Etruscan kings, who had one lictor appointed from each of their 12 states.[1]


Originally, lictors were chosen from the plebs, but through most of Roman history, they seemed to have been freedmen. Centurions from the legions were also automatically eligible to become lictors on retirement from the army.[2] They were, however, definitely Roman citizens, since they wore togas inside Rome. A lictor had to be a strongly built man, capable of physical work. Lictors were exempted from military service, received a fixed salary (of 600 sesterces, in the beginning of the Empire), and were organized in a corporation. Usually, they were personally chosen by the magistrate they were supposed to serve, but it is also possible that they were drawn by lots.

Lictors were associated with Comitia Curiata and, probably, one was originally selected from each curia, since there were originally 30 curiae and 30 lictors (24 for the two consuls and six for the sole praetor).


The lictor's main task was to attend as bodyguards to magistrates who held imperium. They carried rods decorated with fasces and, outside the pomerium, with axes that symbolized the power to carry out capital punishment. Dictatorial lictors had axes even within the pomerium. They followed the magistrate wherever he went, including the Forum, his house, temples, and the baths. Lictors were organized in an ordered line before him, with the primus lictor (the principal lictor) directly in front of him, waiting for orders. If there was a crowd, the lictors opened the way and kept their master safe, pushing all aside except for Roman matrons, who were accorded special honor. They also had to stand beside the magistrate whenever he addressed the crowd. Magistrates could only dispense with their lictors if they were visiting a free city or addressing a higher status magistrate. Lictors also had legal and penal duties; they could, at their master's command, arrest Roman citizens and punish them. A Vestal Virgin was accorded a lictor when her presence was required at a public ceremony.

The degree of magistrate's imperium was symbolised by the number of lictors escorting him:

Sometimes, lictors were ascribed to private citizens on special occasions, such as funerals or political reunions, as a show of respect by the city.

Lictor curiatus

The lictor curiatus (plural lictores curiati) was a special kind of lictor who did not carry rods or fasces and whose main tasks were religious. There were approximately 30 of them, serving at the command of the Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Rome. They were present at sacrifices where they carried or guided sacrificial animals to the altars. Vestal Virgins, flamines (priests), and other high-ranking priests were entitled to be escorted and protected by lictores curiati. In the Empire, women of the royal family were usually followed by two of this kind of lictor. The lictores curiati were also responsible to summon the Comitia Curiata (the Public Assembly) and to maintain order during its procedures.


Head of Libertas, and on the reverse a consul flanked by two lictors on a denarius

Comic History of Rome p 068 A Lictor is sent to arrest Publiliu Volero

A Lictor is sent to arrest Publilius Volero (The Comic History of Rome by Gilbert Abbott à Beckett.)

See also


  1. ^ Livy. The History of Rome by Titus Livius: Books Nine to Twenty-Six, trans. D. Spillan and Cyrus Edmonds. York Street, Covent Garden, London: Henry G. Bohn, 1868. 1.8
  2. ^ The Legions of Rome, Stephen Dando-Collins, pp41, Quercus (December 2010)
  3. ^ William, Smith (1875). "LacusCurtius • Fasces (Smith's Dictionary, 1875)". Retrieved 2018-12-28.

External links

2nd Division "Littorio"

The 2nd 'Littorio' ("Lictor") Division was one of four divisions raised by Mussolini's Italian Social Republic. Although an infantry formation, it was often referred to as a "Grenadier" formation for morale purposes.

Albanian Lictor Youth

Albanian Lictor Youth (Albanian: Djelmnia e Liktorit Shqiptar, Italian: Gioventù del Littorio Albanese, abbreviated G.L.A.) was a youth organization, the youth wing of the Albanian Fascist Party. The Albanian Youth of the Lictor was one of the associated organizations of the Albanian Fascist Party, as stipulated in its statute, which was formulated in a decree of the Italian vicegerent issued on June 2, 1939.Giovanni Giro, an Italian fascist official, had been sent to Albania to organize a fascist youth movement there prior to the Italian annexation of the country. However, these efforts had been largely unsuccessful. On the contrary, his activities created various diplomatic incidents.Following the Italian invasion of Albania in April 1939, Achille Starace, a leading fascist organizer, was sent to Albania to set up the Albanian Fascist Party and the Albanian Fascist Youth. ENGA, an Albanian youth organization modelled after the Italian Opera Nazionale Balilla organization merged into GLA. After the founding of the GLA, Giro remained the main organizer of the movement. The GLA was modelled after the Italian Youth of the Lictor, and was politically under the command of its Italian counterpart. The uniforms of GLA were similar to those used in Italy. Girls were organized in Female Youth of the Lictor (Gioventù Femminile del Littorio) and boys under fourteen years of age were organized in Balilla groups. Parallel to the Youth of the Lictor there were also groups of university fascists, but these groups were rather marginal as Albania had few universities.The Italian authorities built a marble palace for the GLA in Tirana, in the same complex as the Casa del Fascio, one of a series of lavish façades that popped up in the city during Italian rule.The organization's press organ was Liktori (Lictor) newspaper, with Ligor Buzi as editor.Ramiz Alia, who served as head of state of Albania in 1985-1992, had been a member of the fascist youth movement, but later left it and in 1943 he joined the Communist resistance movement.

Arab Lictor Youth

Arab Lictor Youth (Arabic: شباب الليتوريو العرب‎ Shabāb Al-Līttūriw Al-ʿArab, Italian: Gioventù Araba del Littorio, abbreviated G.A.L.) was a fascist youth organization for Arab youth in Italian Libya.

Casa del Fascio

A casa del Fascio, casa Littoria, or casa del Littorio (Italian pronunciation: [ˈkaːza del ˈfaʃʃo]) was a building housing the local branch of the National Fascist Party and later the Republican Fascist Party under the regime of Italian Fascism, in Italy and its colonies. In major urban centers, it was called the palazzo del Littorio or palazzo Littorio. Littorio means lictor, the bearer of the fasces lictorii, the symbol of Roman power adopted by the Fascist party.

Chionodes lictor

Chionodes lictor is a moth in the family Gelechiidae. It is found in North America, where it has been recorded from California, Oregon and British Columbia.The larvae feed on Pseudotsuga menziesii.

Ectaga lictor

Ectaga lictor is a moth in the Depressariidae family. It was described by Walsingham in 1912. It is found in Guatemala.The wingspan is about 18 mm. The forewings are hoary greyish, with an obliquely placed streak of raised blackish scales at about one-fourth the wing-length, running from the upper edge of the cell to about the middle of the fold. There is a blackish dot at the end of the cell and a slight sprinkling of brownish scales at about the middle of the dorsum and in the direction of the apex there is a strong shade of the same colour, accompanied with greyish fuscous, occupying the costa from above the black streak to the apex. The hindwings are shining whitish cinereous.

Ethiopian Lictor Youth

Ethiopian Lictor Youth (Italian: Gioventù Etiopica del Littorio, abbreviated G.E.L.) was a fascist youth organization in Ethiopia.

Gabardini Lictor

The Gabardini Lictor was a light aircraft developed in Italy in the mid-1930s. It was a low-wing cantilever monoplane with fixed tailwheel undercarriage and a fully enclosed cabin. Two versions were built, the Lictor 90 with a 90-hp Fiat engine, and that Lictor 130 with a 130-hp de Havilland Gipsy Major engine built by Alfa Romeo. Development was abandoned at the same time as the firm was absorbed by Fiat in early 1936.

Gioventù Italiana del Littorio

The Gioventù Italiana del Littorio (GIL) (English: Italian Youth of the Lictor) was the consolidated youth movement of the National Fascist Party of Italy that was established in 1937, to replace the Opera Nazionale Balilla (ONB). It was created to supervise and influence the minds of all youths, that was effectively directed against the influence of the Catholic Church on youths.

Lesser kiskadee

The lesser kiskadee (Philohydor lictor) is a species of passerine bird in the family Tyrannidae. It is the only species in the genus Philohydor. It is found in Argentina, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad, Guatemala, and Venezuela. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist shrubland and swamps.

The lesser kiskadee was described by the German naturalist and explorer Hinrich Lichtenstein in 1823 and given the binomial name Lanius lictor. The present genus Philohydor was introduced by the American ornithologist Wesley Edwin Lanyon in 1984. The word Philohydor is from Ancient Greek philos for "-loving" and hudōr, "water". The specific epithet lictor is the Latin word for a magistrate's bodyguard who carried out sentences. It is sometimes placed in the genus Pitangus with the great kiskadee.There are two subspecies:

P. l. panamensis (Bangs & Penard, TE, 1918) – east Panama and north Colombia

P. l. lictor (Lichtenstein, MHK, 1823) – east Colombia through the Guianas south to Bolivia, east and central BrazilThe lesser kiskadee is 15–18 cm (5.9–7.1 in) in length and weighs around 25 g (0.88 oz). It lives in eastern Panama and throughout the northern parts of South America, usually near water.


Liktori ('Lictor') was a twice-weekly Albanian-Italian bilingual newspaper published from Korçë during the Italian occupation of Albania. The newspaper was founded on July 9, 1939, replacing Korça fashiste ('Fascist Korçë') of Zhan Gorguzi (founded just a few days before). Initially Dr. Guljelm Deba served as the director of Liktori. On September 14, 1940 (issue no. 124) Lluka Bibi took over as director.Liktori was the organ of the Korçë provincial federation of the Albanian Fascist Party. It was one of five newspapers published in Albania at the time (all bilingual fascist organs).The format of the newspaper varied between 36x58 centimetres and 40x58 cm. The newspaper used Tosk orthography. The newspaper carried four or pages, one of them in Italian language. It was published on Thursdays and Sundays.Liktori continued publication until 1943.

Muslim Association of the Lictor

The Muslim Association of the Lictor (Italian: Associazione Musulmana del Littorio, AML) was created in 1939 as the Muslim branch of the National Fascist Party of Italy. It was found mainly and largely in Italian Libya. It was dissolved by the Allies during the invasion of Italy in 1943.

Omiodes dispilotalis

Omiodes dispilotalis is a moth in the Crambidae family. It was described by Francis Walker in 1866. It is found in Indonesia (Sulawesi, Sula) and Australia, where it has been recorded from Queensland.

Adults are brown with a pale yellow area along each the forewing costa.


Periaptodes is a genus of longhorn beetles of the subfamily Lamiinae, containing the following species:

Periaptodes frater Van der Poll, 1887

Periaptodes lictor Pascoe, 1866

Periaptodes olivieri Thomson, 1864

Periaptodes paratestator Breuning, 1980

Periaptodes potemnoides Kriesche, 1936 inq.

Periaptodes testator Pascoe, 1866

Periaptodes lictor

Periaptodes lictor is a species of beetle in the family Cerambycidae. It was described by Francis Polkinghorne Pascoe in 1866. It is known from Indonesia.

Plateros lictor

Plateros lictor is a species of net-winged beetle in the family Lycidae. It is found in North America.

Political institutions of ancient Rome

Various lists regarding the political institutions of ancient Rome are presented. Each entry in a list is a link to a separate article. Categories included are: constitutions (5), laws (5), and legislatures (7); state offices (28) and office holders (6 lists); political factions (3) and social ranks (8). A political glossary (35) of similar construction follows.

The Sword of the Lictor

The Sword of the Lictor is a science fantasy novel by American writer Gene Wolfe, first released in 1982. It is the third volume in the four-volume series The Book of the New Sun.


The Vigintisexviri (sing. vigintisexvir) was a college (collegium) of minor magistrates (magistratus minores) in the Roman Republic; the name literally means "Twenty-Six Men". The college consisted of six boards:

decemviri stlitibus iudicandis – 10 magistrates who judged lawsuits, including those dealing with whether a man was free or a slave;

the tresviri capitales, also known as nocturni – three magistrates who had a police function in Rome, in charge of prisons and the execution of criminals;

the tresviri aere argento auro flando feriundo, also known as tresviri monetales – three magistrates who were in charge of striking and casting bronze, silver and gold (minting coins);

the quattuorviri viis in urbe purgandis, also known as quattuorviri viarum curandarum – four magistrates overseeing road maintenance within the city of Rome;

the duoviri viis extra urbem purgandis, also known as duoviri curatores viarum – two magistrates overseeing road maintenance near Rome;

the four praefecti Capuam Cumas – praefecti sent to Capua and Cumae in Campania to administer justice there.The singular of tresviri is triumvir; triumviri is also sometimes used for the plural but is considered to be less correct.

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